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It’s time to face reality that you must begin to manage and monitor your personal brand- don’t worry, you’re not alone.
In a recent survey by Domain .ME conducted by Wakefield Research, the report revealed that “60 percent of Americans have not searched for their name on a search engine – of those who do, nearly 47 percent only do so once or twice a year.”
Experts say that before you begin branding yourself, first figure out what people are saying about you behind the keyboard.
The last thing you want is your name attached to a compromising photo or laughing llama gif. According to the same .ME survey “22 percent of respondents found that the information that showed up was what they want people to know about them, and 20 percent found inaccurate or outdated information about themselves.”
Experts suggest to make a habit of searching your name by looking on multiple search engines and continuing for a minimum of five pages. It’s also important to click under the ‘web', ‘images' and ‘video' tabs. This research will give you a snapshot of what people are reading about you and what they might perceive when they look you up – and they will.
Similar to getting a credit report, this process also gives you the opportunity to address any concerns or questionable material that surround your name.
To keep tabs on the online conversations, set up alerts for your name or company using free or paid tools such as Google Alert, Social Mention, ReputationDefender or Trackur. If you want to go semi-undercover and find out what people are saying about your company, use Google Chrome’s Incognito where you can browse privately without saving the sites you visit.
To begin driving traffic to the official you, experts say that it’s also important to build out a domain around your name, then a website where you control the content.
But I’m Still An Employee
Whether you plan to stay at your company or looking to break out on your own, establishing your personal brand online can help prepare you for the next opportunity.
Andrew Bart, startup advisor and growth consultant, said the average agency employee has about a two-to-three year shelf life and it’s important to position oneself to become more attractive to a recruiter, company or potential clients.
“Personal branding is your inbound marketing for future opportunities. You can put your best foot forward, tell your story and explain in your words what you bring to the table,” Bart said.
Brenda Christensen, president of Stellar Public Relations, said whether you’re considering going out on your own or starting a company with a co-founder, having an established presence online can help drive potential clients, investors and employees to your business.
“The workforce has evolved and people are entering the cottage industry. Companies are becoming more fluid and realize people are contributing in ways that leverage their talent and perspectives. Even if you are at a large corporation, it’s important to begin establishing your personal brand internally and online for your career,” Christensen said.
What’s In Your ToolBox
When you’re ready to hit the keyboard but don’t know where to begin storytelling, experts say to start simple on familiar platforms and offer well-crafted and valuable information to your audience; most importantly, be consistent with your messaging.
Arnie Kuenn, founder and CEO of Vertical Measures said that if your goal is to pop up on page one of Google, then you need to own the content on your blog and begin to use social media outlets to drive traffic.
“The only way to get ranked is to have a well-written, generally lengthy, optimized content with other websites linked to them,” Kuenn said.
LinkedIn is an easy way to start building your brand. It’s a platform where you can write full articles, link to your personal blog and use social media to promote your content and self, Kuenn said.
How you go about getting attention is another strategic component to building an online reputation. Experts say that offering too much information, being a contrarian or talking a big game without being able to deliver could backfire when you’re trying to find another opportunity or build your business.
“[It’s important] to consider the potential audience. Using a snarky approach, going off on people or being negative might get the attention they want – but it builds a reputation and now the person is known as a contrarian,” Kuenn said.
When you do comment and engage on blogs and social media, providing helpful information is a good way to begin to establish yourself as an expert in your industry, Kuenn said.
There Are No Shortcuts
Building your personal brand has no time frame and there are no short cuts.
“I’m always asked, ‘how do I get there faster, cheaper and if there’s a tool to speed things up?’ No matter what, there is no way to automate your personal brand,” Kuenn said.
In the .ME survey, “43 percent of Millennials surveyed admit to being negatively affected by information about them online.” The reality is that if you do nothing about managing your personal brand, you are relying on the general public to get it right.
“[I suggest to] block off 20 minutes a day to take care of posting and engaging on social media. Don’t let a day go by where you aren’t doing it,” Kuenn said.